Link building is not only good for search engine rankings, it’s essential. But not all links are equal - some links are excellent, and many others next to useless. It’s quality, not quantity of inbound links that make winners stand out. That’s why link building is the biggest challenge SEOs and website owners face.
We asked our customers: what are the biggest challenges in link building? Here’s what they said:
(i) Finding high quality link prospects - sites that could link to yours.
(ii) Creating effective, targeted campaigns.
(iii) Tracking the success of your campaigns - and knowing whether a prospect has already linked to you.
(iv) Learning and understanding best practice.
Wordtracker’s Link Builder tool helps you meet all of these important challenges. Here’s how:
(i) Finding high quality link prospects
Let’s use an example to show you what Link Builder can do.
Suppose you manufacture handmade wooden fountain pens and want to increase your online sales. You’ve got your beautiful website in place, you’ve created some great content and you’ve got a payment system that allows customers to buy your products.
You want to rank well in search engine results and to do that you need to get links.
So who would link to a fountain pen site?
Well, websites that are already linking to fountain pen websites would be a likely group. Find out who is linking to some well known fountain pen websites and you’ll find link prospects.
In Link Builder there are two ways to find link prospects:
- Type in a keyword. Choose any word or phrase that represents your market and we’ll search Google for the top 10 results for your keyword. We then build your campaign by collecting all the links to these results. In this case we might choose _fountain pens_
- Enter the web address (URL) of web pages that you’d like to investigate. We then build your campaign by collecting all the links that point to the URLs you’ve entered.
Let’s enter the websites of four leading fountain pen brands.
You’ll need to add a few details that will help you manage your campaign:
- Add your site’s web address (mysite.com) so that we can flag link prospects that are already linking to you.
- Choose whether to add the prospects to a new campaign or an existing campaign.
- For now, don’t worry about the other options. Leave them as they are.
When you’ve done that, click ‘Create my link building campaign’ and wait for the results to appear. This can take a few minutes as we’re searching a database of over 1.7 trillion URLs, but you should start to see the first results within a few seconds.
Managing your campaigns
On the campaign screen, you’ll see two tabs: Analysis and Contact.
Use the Analysis tab to find and categorize your link prospects. See image below:
Taking each of the columns in turn, you’ll see:
- The prospect’s website www.potentialprospect.com. We show the ‘top link’ from that domain to the URL you are analyzing.
- Moving on to the second column, you’ll see that the links are listed in order, those with the highest ‘Rank’ come to the top ('Rank' is simply a count of the number of domains linking to the URL you are analyzing: it is a good measure of trust). Google values links from trusted sites - so a link from a site with a high 'Rank' is often much more valuable than lots of links from sites with a low 'Rank'.
- You can see the address (URL) of the page that each prospect is linking to.
- You can see whether a site already links to you.
- The co-link count helps you find sites that are actively linking in your market. A high co-link count shows that the prospect links to multiple sites and is therefore likely to respond positively to a link request from you.
Sites that already link to you
Many people ignore sites that already link to them. That’s a missed opportunity.
Sites that already link to you are some of your best prospects. You should build a relationship with the people behind these sites. Because they have linked to you in the past, they’ll be likely to link to you in the future, if you launch new products or want to promote a story or offer.
In Link Builder, you can see the prospects that already link to you. Just click on ‘Already linking’ in the left-hand navigation.
ii) Creating effective, targeted campaigns
The prospects in your campaign are presented in descending order of 'Rank'. This means you can start with the most important.
'Rank' gives a good indication of the quality of a link prospect, but a thorough link builder will visit the link prospect to make a further judgment.
Click on the linking domain to be taken to the home page or click on the top link to see the actual page on which the link sits.
You can investigate those slides at your leisure. For now, let’s look at some of the ‘Top link’ pages in our fountain pen campaign.
So this page lists pen companies and the publisher is asking for your help in keeping the information current – great, an immediate opportunity.
That’s great. Is your business good enough to be featured in such a way?
And finally, let’s look at editorial coverage, as you’d find here http://www.brandchannel.com
Such editorial links are not only beneficial in themselves, but they can encourage other sites to follow suit and link to you as well.
So in a matter of minutes, Link Builder has helped us find some great link prospects. And there are thousands more to investigate.
Different strokes for different folks
Professional SEOs will tell you that different types of site require different approaches to link building. For instance, you would never send a reporter the same information that you would add to a directory – journalists are interested in well-told, exciting stories while directory entries are factual and free of hype.
In Link Builder, we’ve already filtered your prospects and organized them into strategies so you can tailor your link building - and increase your chances of getting a link.
On the left-hand side of the campaign screen you can see the different strategies, all containing sites that are already linking to sites in your market:
- Blog outreach: Blogs.
- Media PR: Online newspapers, magazines and broadcasters.
- Social Media: Highlighting discussions, comments and debates on news stories, products and companies.
- Jobs: Sites that promote or comment upon jobs and internships.
- Directories: Directories and lists that offer you immediate and simple opportunities for links.
- Shopping: Shopping directories, affiliate sites, discount and gift guides.
- Business: Trade associations, special interest, local and other business groups, events and awards.
- Trusted sites: .gov, .edu and .org sites that because of their nature are likely to rank well on Google.
- Already linking: Such sites are great places to build relationships and start new initiatives.
- Co-linking: Sites that link to multiple sites in your market.
- Imported links: Sites that you collect from the web using Link Builder’s Firefox browser extension.
You can create your own strategies too. Just add a tag to the prospects you’re interested in.
Your tags will appear on the left-hand side of the page beneath the existing categories. For example, you could have a tag for sites that are highly likely to give you a link and who you’ll want to contact immediately. See image below:
In my fountain pen campaign, I’ll go through the list and pick out the prospects I’d like to target right away. I’ll save them to a tag called ‘Pens-immediate’.
Filtering your prospects
You’re more likely to get links if you create campaigns targeted at sites that share something in common. For example, you could have a campaign targeted at green (environmentally friendly) sites.
This is where the ‘filter’ feature helps. Just filter the results looking for all the top links that contain the word ‘green’ and tag the prospects appropriately.
Getting in touch
Contacting prospects can be a time-consuming task. Link Builder makes it easier by:
- Finding contact details automatically
- Allowing you to record who you’ve contacted and see the status of each prospect.
Let’s look at how this works. Let’s say you want to run a link building campaign that targets bloggers. Click on the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of the page. Next, click on the ‘Blog outreach’ link on the left-hand side of the screen - this will bring up a list of prospects, people who are already blogging about fountain pens.
You’ll see your prospects and some additional columns:
- You get to see whether the prospect is already linking to you.
- You can make your own ‘Notes’ about the link prospect you have found.
- You can change a prospect’s ‘Status’ so that you can record what has happened with that link prospect. Let’s work through an example to show you how this works.
Find contact details quickly and easily
Link Builder can save you hours of research. In the ‘Contact’ tab click on ‘Find contact and about links’ and we’ll search for contact details for each of your prospects. This can take a few minutes, but will save you days of research.
It’s not always possible to find a contact page, so don’t expect to see details for every prospect.
Let’s get back to our example. One of the top links I noticed was this Tiger Pens link
Let’s have a look at that screenshot below:
So I can see this is a nicely designed blog. A quick glance at the top menu of the page and I can see ‘Submit an article’ and ‘Contact’. It’s clear that this site welcomes submissions and gives a link in return.
Follow the ‘Submit an article’ link and you’ll find submission guidelines:
This submission opportunity is exactly what I’m after.
Tiger Pens Blog has done a great job here and they’ve set out their guidelines.
You MUST follow these guidelines if you want to build a relationship: in no circumstances should you submit irrelevant topics or articles that don’t fit the criteria.
Back in Link Builder, let’s record what we’ve found.
I can now type in my notes and set the status for each link prospect – ie, ‘Contacted’ or ‘Not contacted’ etc.
This means I can now organize my work well and keep a record of exactly what I’ve done. I can come back to it at any time and know exactly what stage I’m at.
Planning campaigns like this helps you concentrate your efforts and minimize repetition – that’s an effective way to build links.
Collect link prospects as you browse
Link prospects appear all the time on the web - even when you’re not actively looking for them. You see a great list of recommended websites you’d like to check out but you just don’t have the time.
Now you can just save them directly into your Link Builder campaigns as you browse, using Link Builder’s unique Firefox extension. To download the extension, just click on the ‘More prospects’ link. You’ll be taken to a video showing you how to install the extension.
Once you’ve installed it, you can go to any page, click the LB button in the toolbar and select “Get external links from page”.
When you’re next ready to start link building, your links will be ready and waiting for you in Link Builder.
(iv) Learning and understanding best practice
Link building can be an incredibly effective way of boosting your site’s rankings. But, there’s no doubt, too, that there are lots of skills and techniques to learn. It’s difficult to keep up with best practice.
We understand the challenges you face - and we’re here to help. It’s why we produced this e-book. And it’s why you’ll find lots more great resources in the link building section of the Wordtracker Academy There are more than 50 link building articles plus slide shows and videos. Here are a few of our favorites:
62 steps to the definitive link building campaign will help you plan your link building
These articles will help you devise creative campaigns for:
And we’ve advice on:
Wordtracker runs regular live webinars They’re free to attend, we cover lots of different topics, and you can ask as many questions as you like.
And if you haven’t yet read our Link Building Masterclass book you really should. It’s 135 pages packed with useful advice.
If you have any questions, any at all, our support team is happy to help (you’re likely to speak with Jo, Mal or Edith). Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call.
In this introduction we’ve shown you how to use Link Builder to:
(i) Find high quality link prospects – sites that could link to yours.
(ii) Create effective, targeted campaigns.
(iii) Track the effectiveness of your campaigns - so you know whether a prospect has already linked to you.
In the rest of this free guide you’ll find more information on how to approach the important task of link building for your site.
We often feature our customers’ sites in our case studies. So, please let us know how you get on. Email us at email@example.com
About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is a writer, speaker and trainer in online marketing. He provides webinar and video training in link building, online PR and content marketing on his site at LinkingMatters.com You can join him at Google+ or on Twitter
He wrote The Definitive Guide to Successful Link Building with Mark Nunney, and has created two in-depth online courses, 'Get Links: 7 Weeks to Link Building Mastery' and 'Broken Link building Video Course', both with Garrett French.